Archive for March 16th, 2011

March 16, 2011

Some news from France XXVIII

ok so spring is in the air temps today of 17°C very nice with a tad of sun coming out. Time to do some gardening in my free afternoon. Cut some pine trees along my fence given to the forest! Its great to have this weather again. And it will be like this for the next few days.

Tonite big match Real Madrid vs O Lyon in the Champions league,(Canal+ 20h45) be there for sure! The Real Madrid needs to finally get by the eight finals of the competition and their nemesis lately Lyon is lurking on. They  have a goal advantage away goal and playing at home in Madrid so no excuses. WE WON 3X0!!! and advance to quarter finals Yes!!!

There is an expo Vision d’Egypt at the Bibliothéque Nationale  salle Richelieu ,until June 5 2011. The Egyptian art and Arab art on display by the collection of Emile Prisse d’Avennes.  He became an egyptologue ,archeologist, and ethnology expert with special interest in Egypt where he spent two tours one in 1827 to 1844, and another from 1858 to 1860.  Library located at rue de Richelieu, best metro quatre septembre or Bourse line 3.

We are doing gaufres for tonite, the wife that is ::) these little mouthful are hard to find in Paris but a favorite of the family. You need to go in Paris to Angelina, Carette or l’Avant Comptoir  to find some good ones, and then home made are still better. Other good ones are found at Coupole (75014) ,and L’Absinthe, and au Pain Quotidien in Paris. And the famous one with the vanilla from Madagascar and special of the Nord, Lille to be exact has come to Paris, Meert, 16, rue Elzévir, 75003  Tél. +33  01 49 96 56 90. this is the webpage to entice you to taste http://www.meert.fr/

Some new French expressions to note and it changes with the times always ,really so you thought you knew French huh, n’est pas ce pas vrai mes amis ::)  When we say  Avoir la Barry White (is to have the voice coerse the next morning of partying) , and Se faire flûter (is to be abuse of you make a fool of you), Bling, à composer ( create something  chic),  Un lieu surstaffé (there is nobody but clients), Baronner (to tell the verbs derive from the place you frequent), Le triple off (you are more off than off the record or way off), and Avoir une vitalité hybride (to have multiple love relationships). cheers ::)

Madrid is expanding its metro system , the Line 2 passing by my old neighborhood has grown with four more stations reaching Las Rosas ! including La Almudena, Alsacia,Avenida de Guadalajara, and Las Rosas see the metromadrid webpage http://www.metromadrid.es/es/viaja_en_metro/red_de_metro/lineas_y_horarios/linea02.html

The situation in Japan is uncertain too many media talking and too many reports, but the nuclear thread is real. France has reinforce its security measures but another media rethoric, the incident is in Japan. Sarkozy is losing ground in the next elections, so anything goes. Now even the son of Khadafy the Lybian dictator is claiming he provided campaign funds to Sarkozy, what a shame if found to be true.

this month the bullfight season opens in Spain, those matadores ahead are José Tomás, El Juli, Juan Mora ,and Morante de la Puebla. olé.

Eurostar will open reservation for the London Olympic games from end of June 2011.

The world tourist fair open today at Porte de Versailles everything you want to know about tourism is here at the No 1 in the world France ! http://www.lemondeaparis.com/exhibit/

A new concept in hostals is already open in Paris, St Christopher’s  with plans for a brasserie restaurant by the Rotonde de la Villette in July/August next and another hostal by Gare du Nord planned, webpage for the current place by the Canal de la Villette rue de Crimée is here http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/paris-hostels

Well until we read again ,stay safe and happy rest of the week, spring is in the air Cheers!

ps add on to my comments, I find it hard to believe that trying to write entries and found no pictures ,I dont like to do that but…Lately in doing my posts I realised my photos for Beauregard castle, Rambouillet, Tours ,and Geneva, Switzerland are no where to be found at home….well maybe do the post and found the excuse to go back and revisit these places huh…Lol! Great idea.

March 16, 2011

Blois, royal and magical and Houdin

Well this is again another of my many favorites castles ::) Love them all really, but really this is a favorite one Lol!  Of course it is in the valley of the Loire, the valley of the kings ,and very nice town too. Today we will talk about Blois. A city seat of regional government in the region Centre, dept Loir et Cher or no 41, half way between Tours and Orléans.

Very close to Paris at about 1h30 on the road, taking the A10 autoroute and get out at exit Blois that simple. All signs lead to the city afterward, parking is by jardin des lices. viamichelin will help plan your route at www.viamichelin.co.uk , and by train from Paris   gare d’Austerlitz,and  gare Montparnasse, TGV Paris – Vendôme, then from Vendôme its only a 30 km ride by taxi to Blois or to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps  then change train to Blois for about 30 mins ride. The train station in Blois is at 70 blvd Daniel Dupuis near city center,walking distance.  The TER train scheduling webpage is at   http://www.ter-sncf.com/Regions/centre/Fr/Default.aspx .There is ,also, an airport with flights to Tours from different cities that can connect by train to Blois, the airport webpage is at http://www.tours.aeroport.fr/.

We have heard of Blois since 410AD and it arrived the city was taken by king Clovis in 491 AD in his quest to unified the Frankish kingdom that gave name to France. The castle is here since king Charles the Bold in 854 AD. The castle was lived by 7 kings and 10 queens from 1214 to 1643 AD, and from Louis IX to Louis XIII.

Let me give you my favorite sites in town first, Place du Chateau, a lovely plaza with all noble houses and a high garden overlooking the city, Maison de la Magie or the magician Houdin’s house,Jardin des Lices, with beautiful views of the towers of the castle and the city beyond; Jardin de l’ancien éveche or bishops garden with another impressive view of the city, the pont Jacques-V. Gabriel(b 1717-1724)  ,the last bridge in two pylons built over the river Loire  ; the Cathédrale Saint Louis, built from 12C on and still with a Carolinian crypt; Church Saint Nicolas, built 1138-1184 AD with a nave inspired from the Cathedral of Chartres, and of course the main one the Chateau Royal  de Blois.

A must to come here is the Chateau Royal de Blois,  is a very nice, historical ,and richly decorated castle.  It is built around an inmense courtyard showing all the French architecture of the middle ages to the classical period.  The exterior can be resume in the gothic section or medieval fortress 13C, moving to the wing Louis XII 1498-1503AD, the François I wing 1515-1524 AD, the Gaston d’Orléans wing 1635-1638AD (brother of Louis XIII) , the Saint Calais chapel  almost standing alone in the courtyard,and the Tour du Foix removed from the main building along the interior walls. The entry to the castle is done from the courtyard going up a spiral staircase.

Once inside the tour begins at the François I wing with the apartments ,these have been occupied over the years by François I, Catherine de Medicis, Henri III, and Gaston d’Orléans. There were turn into a military barracks from 1788 to 1867! You follow into the Kings Hall, where the king took court showing the emblem of François I of the salamander, and the ermine the emblem of his wife Claude de France, duchess of Brittany. You go into the Hall of the Guards, the history of weapons from the 15C to the 17C, and here you walk by two meters( 6.60 ft) thick wall of the old fortress of the 13C here. Follow this with the Queen’s gallery, an indoor promenade with glazed tile floors all model after the Vatican. Then into the Queen bedchamber who was the royal bedroom of Catherine de Medicis who died here on January 5,1589. Move on to the Oratory,small inspired by the library of another castle of Ecouen 1550AD with stained glass from the 19C. The studiolo the only room that has kept its original decoration with 237 sculpture panels from the 1520’s AD with object d’arts from the renaissance kept in the cabinets that open with a special mechanism.

You move up one floor to the king’s apartments under Henri III, here you see the Study room with painted ceilings from the 17C, and the king’s gallery with arts showing the renaissance at its magical moments.  Move on the hall of the Guises, the place where the Duke of Guise was assassinated on December 23, 1588 with paintings and portraits of the leading figures of the War of Religion. The council room, nice furniture from the 19C showing the luxury living of the 16C, and last the King’s bedchamber, where tradition says the assassination of the Duke of Guise took place; and move over to the Chateau-Renault tower, open depending on the weather with great views over the former royal gardens of Ann of Brittany,where the pavillion and orangerie still stand.

We move our tour to the medieval fortress section, and begin with the Hall of the Estates General, built in 1220 AD, still in its original layout. It was used as a court of justice by the Counts of Blois and where king Henri III had the representatives of the three estate , nobles, clergy, and third estate summoned for meeting of the Estate General in 1576 and 1588 AD. We see the Louis XII section the Fine Arts museum, or beaux-arts in the royal apartments of the first floor since 1869; the eight rooms contained a collection of paintings, and sculptures from the 16C to 19C. You visit the chapel of Saint Calais, built by king Louis XII and consecrated in 1508AD.  In the Gaston d’Orléans wing, you see the monumental staircase and  Mansart’s rooms with a historical exhibition of the castle and rooms for meetings and temp exhibitions. You can see the Lapidary museum with original stones and carvings from the different wings of the castle shown in the former kitchens of François I wing. And last but not least the Tour du Foix, the remains of 13C fortifications with excellent views over the city of Blois, the Loire valley, and the church of Saint Nicolas. A wonderful castle to see indeed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The official webpage http://www.chateaudeblois.fr/

The Maison de la Magie is fantastic, and my kids favorite, go figure it ::)  Lots of magic and special effects in this place, you can get lost lol!  The entrance is down a ramp across the place du chateau practically facing out from the castle. You must see the Rotonde showing the evolution of magic, the Salle des Illusions, kaleidoscope illusions with mirror games, optique illusions etc, the Passage des mystéres oriental magic and the vitrine du magicien with instruments magician used. Passarelle Harry Houdini, the king of evasion (b 1874 d 1926), into the Salle Robert Houdin the father of modern magic (b1805 d 1871), the Hallucinospe, to go into the Jules Verne world, the Foyer du théatre, objects of magiciens and posters and guillotines, the Grand Théatre, a magic show on site, and the boutique Exposition for souvenirs shopping. A magical place for old and young. The official webpage http://www.maisondelamagie.fr/

The Cathédrale Saint-Louis dates from the 12C, 16C, and 17C, it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1678AD and rebuilt with the aid of Colbert as his wife was from the town. A marvel of a cathedral not often mentioned but worth the detour. The church of Saint Nicolas, built from 1138-1186 AD parvis de Saint Nicolas at the foot of the castle very nice church for architecture styles.  The jardin des lices or lys, is facing the castle with gardens interpreting history 3 faces of the castle and 3 eras differently. The jardin de l’ancien éveche, built in 1697AD around the Hotel de Ville or mayors office and slumbering down to the river Loire.

You can,also, in summer take horse carriage rides with percherons horses (region de la Perche) taking you all around the main sights and along the river Loire departing from place du chateau for about 6€ per adults.  There is small boats for Futreau(boats of the Loire traditional)  of the area that can give you a ride on the river Loire as well from the pont Jacques V Gabriel or port de la Creustille in summer months is very nice, you can check in French the webpage http://www.observatoireloire.fr/ . The adventurous in you can do rides in bicycles along the river Loire or around town with this outfit http://www.loireavelo.fr/ ;my boys think is great but I have never try it ::)

For shopping you have marchés here of course but they are not as lively as Amboise for example, my opinion. My shopping was and always end up been at Amboise, however there are many businesses around the castle just find it a bit too over touristic. For grocery shopping there is an Intermarché supermarket near the hotel we stayed at 16 ave Gambetta near train station too.

For lodging we try something different as we usually rent from Accor hotels chain, we decided to try a local one recommended by a local friend and it was great! The Relais de l’Octroi, 14 aveneu Gambetta is only 300 meters from the train station, and 5 minutes walking to city center. It has all amenities even WiFi and satellite TV, then a Buffalo Grill steakhouse chain restaurant next door communicating with the hotel. The webpage is http://www.hotel-octroi-blois.com/

For eating out the place is wonderful indeed many choices. We have tried three, one with great views over the town in a quaint area of town ,the Le Duc de Guise, 15 place Louis XII, kids saw they make pizzas in wooden oven the old way, so we went and it was delicious; no web, Tél.  +33 02 54 78 22 39 Fax +33 02 54 20 66 93. Then the quaint traditional Le Triboulet, place du Chateau, just to the right coming out of the castle; great local cuisine and wonderful views over the Loire from the terraces, webpage http://www.letriboulet.com/ and for the splurge of an evening cant beat the traditional gastronomic French L’Orangerie du Chateau ,1 ave Jean laigret, just going down to castle from the garden des lices parking area. webpage at http://www.orangerie-du-chateau.fr/ .

The Blois area tourist office webpage is at http://www.bloispaysdechambord.com/fr ,and the region Centre Val de Loire tourism webpage is at http://www.visaloire.com/

 

Enjoy Royal Blois! Cheers!

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